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COVID-19 Case Study: Andorra End of July 2020

What has been the impact of the coronavirus on Andorra up til now? As you might imagine, being stuck between France and Spain during a pandemic that frightened the daylights out of their respective Health Services was a little scary. France and Spain are also amongst the most-visited countries in the world. In the case of Spain, for example, it is reckoned that they have (normally) about 75m visitors a year which is not bad, except that we in Andorra have at least 8.5m a year and Spain is more than 1.000 times bigger!

On the other hand, in 2017 the world-renowned British medical publication “The Lancet” named Andorra as having the best healthcare system in the World   - a system that, ironically was originally set up ninety-nine years ago in 1918 in response to a previous pandemic called the “Spanish Influenza”.

So, we had our reputation to consider. We have approximately 78,500 lucky residents and one excellent, modern hospital which, incidentally, happens to be the largest building in the country at present. With an above-average number of qualified doctors and other medical personnel in the country, this is more than adequate to cope with both residents and visitors in normal times, but by now you have probably done the maths and realised that on average more than twice the number of our resident population are here in any one week from all over the world - but of course get here via  France or Spain - and that meant that if we were not quick off the mark we would have been in big, big trouble.

Andorra closed its borders well before its neighbours and we were firmly placed under lockdown. Everything was closed except essential shops and services: businesses, banks, restaurants, bars, hiking trails, fashion emporia, laundries, sports centres, you name it. We even had to wear masks and keep to the right-hand-side of the street when out walking the dog, which actually wasn’t very often since, depending on one’s age, one could only be out of the house at certain, very-restricted times anyway. For a country that lives off its visitors this was a disaster.

However, by general assent, the government did an amazing job, soaring in popularity as a result, and there cannot be many countries around the world of which that can be said. Every business forced to close had its rent and staff health contributions suspended for the duration; all staff laid off had 80% of their salaries guaranteed; there were interest-free loans guaranteed by law for any business with cashflow problems and the due date for payment of our (admittedly very small) taxes postponed for three months ; any elderly person who could not get out to do the shopping at the right time could call on the local commune for help; there were hundreds of volunteers involved within days and, literally, the whole population was tested for infection. Yes, we had just over 800 infections and 59 people did not survive, but this is not surprising given the visitor numbers involved before the lockdown and by the middle of June we had zero new cases.

In early July we returned to something like normality. Wearing of masks is compulsory in public and everything is now open with strict cautionary measures in place. There is still a worry about infections coming in from beyond our borders, but minor outbreaks are being quickly smothered. The government has said that they have no plans to raise more in taxes and the visitors are back (on probation!). Demand for property and new residence permits is back on form and no-one is surprised. Anyone who is lucky enough to live in this jewel of a country knows that very low crime rates and taxes; brilliant weather, cultural events, wonderful countryside and winter and summer sports facilities; ultra-fast internet and investment opportunities; and of course, comprehensive shopping and healthcare, make for a super-attractive, privileged lifestyle.

Take a look at this video about Andorra at https://youtu.be/FTp805vlYao  and then come and see for yourself. You’re welcome!

Article courtesy of Simon Binsted C.E.O. SERVISSIM, S.L.

(The oldest-established, British-run Estate Agency and Services Company in Andorra, established 1990.)

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Aug 4, 2020 | 330 Page Views

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